The following quotations come from a series of letters sent to Church officials, beginning 35 years ago. They all came from people who knew that Theodore McCarrick was a criminal…
McCarrick has an attraction to children. I have seen him touching 13- and 14-year-old boys inappropriately. (from a 1986 letter sent to all the Cardinals in the U.S., as well as to the pope’s ambassador to the US, the nuncio)
Civil charges against McCarrick include pedophilia… The charges are substantial and will shatter the American Church. The court of public opinion will question the private morality of all ecclesiastical authorities. (from a 1992 letter sent to the Archbishop of New York)
Though he postures as a humble servant, as an advocate of family life and family values, Theodore McCarrick is actually a cunning pedophile. McCarrick will be exposed for the sick bastard that he is! The reputations of all in priestly ministry are on the line. (from a February 1993 letter sent to the Archbishops of Chicago and New York)
Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct will be revealed. He will be exposed as an ephebophile. (from a March 1993 letter to the nuncio)
McCarrick uses the priesthood for opportunity and access to young boys by ingratiating himself with their families, by openly displaying these fake nephews, by sexually exploiting them while their trusting families genuflect before him. The number of incidents and their occurrence over twenty years foreclose any credible claim of a simple indiscretion or lapse of judgment. His conduct is not ambiguous. He is a consummate sex offender. He is psychologically unfit to serve as a shepherd. Under our penal code, he is a criminal. (from a March 23, 1993 letter to the nuncio)
McCarrick is a pedophile. By saying youths are his nephews, he has facilely explained overnight trysts with them in hotels and in homes of benefactors over twenty years. (from an April 1993 letter to the nuncio)
Bishop McCarrick is a pedophile. Church hierarchy and priest associates have long known of the bishop’s propensity for young boys. Monsignor Dominic Turtora lived with McCarrick at the Metuchen cathedral and knew of McCarrick’s misconduct. He knew the Bishop’s young guests never stayed overnight in guest rooms, but spent the night with the Bishop. (from a August 1993 letter to the nuncio)
Apparently, the authors of the letters were afraid of reprisals if they included their names. In one way or another, McCarrick exercised power over their lives.
The nuncio who received these letters, Agostino Card. Cacciavillan, disregarded them “because they were anonymous and lacked substance.”
These written denunciations of McCarrick that have survived until now–they are only the tip of the iceberg. McCarrick’s victims and their families tried; they tried over and over and over again. Priests who knew the truth tried. They tried to get the leaders of our Church to listen.
The report contains testimony about McCarrick’s crimes, testimony that never saw the light of day until now. This testimony adds to the picture already painted by other survivors.
Now that the Vatican has published this report, other heretofore-silent survivors will speak out. I received a phone call yesterday from one such survivor, a one-time seminarian, who had never before spoken to anyone about what McCarrick did to him. Just talking to each other made us both feel better.
On the other hand:
It is perfectly clear that the Vatican did not publish this report to contribute humbly to the public record. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
The process by which McCarrick faced justice in the Church remains completely opaque. None of James Grein’s public testimony appears in this report, nor does the testimony of “Mike” (the boy whose penis McCarrick fondled in the St. Patrick’s cathedral sacristy), nor the testimony of any of the “Nathans.” [It appears that Nathan Doe will have more to say, and I very much look forward to reading it.]
My point is: We cannot see the Vatican report as an honest attempt at “transparency.” It is a work of propaganda, produced by an unstable regime, aimed at regaining some of its long-lost credibility.
The Vatican report relies on sources that remain 100% secret. There is no way for anyone to check the accuracy of the report against its sources of information. The report has 1,410 footnotes, but those footnotes do not serve the purpose of footnotes in respectable publications.
A footnote in a respectable publication gives the reader the opportunity to check the accuracy of a clam that the author makes. In the Vatican McCarrick report, only a tiny portion of the cited sources are available to the public.
I am by no means dismissing this report out-of-hand. It contains a great deal of information, which I intend to study very carefully and write about in a series of subsequent posts. I do not think that the report is patently false. Not at all.
The few cup-fulls of truth, however, have been dipped out of a huge swamp of total secrecy. And those cup-fulls of truth have been dipped to serve a clear purpose. Namely, shoring up the power of a teetering corrupt regime.
We believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, founded by the Lord on the rock of St. Peter. Pope Francis is the legitimate successor; he is the pope. We can hold these truths while simultaneously recognizing that many of the incumbents in ecclesiastical office right now are dishonest, self-serving cronies.
A skillful lawyer produced the Vatican McCarrick report. Lawyers serve clients. This lawyer served his client well. He produced a document that contains true information arranged in such a way as to reinforce the prevailing myth that keeps the current cronies secure in their self-righteousness.
The myth is: “We are dutifully fixing an old problem, for which we are not really responsible. Things were bad before ’02, but we have steadily improved the situation since then. Things are better now in the Church. Don’t blame us.”
It would appear that the sole aim of the report is to shore up this self-assurance of the incumbent cronies. They certainly need shoring-up in their self-assurance: In any honest organization, they would have resigned in disgrace long ago.
But re-assuring the cronies in their self-righteousness does not do any of the rest of us any good. The episcopal hierarchy of the Catholic Church has lost its credibility completely. This Vatican document does nothing to restore that credibility. It actually tarnishes it further, for two reasons…
First, the obvious one: The Vatican report contains appallingly embarrassing material. For decades, the bishops and the pope were utterly deaf to cries for justice. Those cries were insistent and convincing for thirty years, and the prelates of our Church ignored them.
As someone who strives to be a conscientious human being, I am profoundly embarrassed to be associated in any way with these three men, and with their cronies. The report reveals the three of them to be the cowardly, careerist apparatchiks that many of us have known them to be for years. (This goes for the pope-emeritus, also.)
Secondly, even though the report reveals all this, it nonetheless reaches an evidently self-serving and mendacious conclusion, exonerating all the incumbent office-holders.
This fact raises the question: What information does the report withhold? We cannot know, since the Vatican is as “transparent” as a brick wall, and this report is no exception. The report could be a pure tissue of lies, for all we know. The ecclesiastical cronies continue to guard all their secrets with an iron fist.
I leapt with surprise when I read McCarrick himself quoted at length, beginning with footnote 245 on page 55. He apparently submitted to extensive interviews for the report. The report discloses absolutely nothing, of course, about how the interviews were done. Under oath? With a lawyer present? We do not know.
McCarrick has claimed that he never got an adequate opportunity to defend himself against the charges leveled against him in his canonical trial. Those charges were leveled by a secret Church prosecutor, we assume. But do not know.
The even-more incredible irony is: That has been the problem all along. A Church prosecutor should have tried and convicted McCarrick, in open court, thirty-five years ago. But this mafia of obtuse narcissists does not know how to do anything like that. They did not know how to do it when Ronald Reagan was president, and they do not know how to do it now.
[I wrote Bishop Knestout, asking him to revoke his decisions about my ministry. He answered promptly in the negative. I have taken recourse by writing to the Apostolic See, as follows.]
June 23, 2020
His Eminence Beniamino Cardinal Stella, Prefect, Congregation for Clergy
Dear Cardinal Stella,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
I hope that this letter finds Your Eminence well. My advocate, Mr. Michael Podhajsky, J.C.L. received Your Eminence’s correspondence, which you had written in response to my petition for hierarchical recourse. I appreciate your letter. That said, I write to you for two reasons, pertaining to the principles of truth and justice upon which we base our Gospel mission.
First, I do not think that justice has been served in this case. Your Eminence correctly noted in your letter to Mr. Podhajsky that we had neglected to use the word “procurator” in my original mandate to him. (We have since rectified this.) This was an oversight on our part, for which we apologize.
In that same mandate, however, I did “fully authorize” Mr. Podhajsky to “speak, negotiate, and correspond on my behalf in all canonical and legal matters as permitted under Church Law.” So, while the word “procurator” did not appear in the original mandate, I nonetheless gave Mr. Podhajsky the essential powers of a procurator, in plenty of time to take recourse within the preemptory deadlines.
Therefore, it seems to me that justice has not yet been served in regard to the matter of my hierarchical recourse. The fact is that I confront a manifest denial of justice to my person by my own bishop. I would hope that the salvation of souls, which is the ultimate purpose of the law (c. 1752), would suggest that my petition should be considered according to its merits, rather than left unheard, solely because of a minor technicality. Please remember the insistent widow in Luke 18.
As Mr. Podhajsky explained in his letter to you of April 23, 2020, my bishop decreed my removal as pastor without an appropriate cause, and without having followed the procedures outlined in the canons.
Secondly, I am sorry to have to alert you to this fact: your letter to Mr. Podhajsky has not resolved the matter. I would kindly draw Your Eminence’s attention to the last sentence of your letter, in which you directed that I report to my new assignment “in obedience to [my] Ordinary.” Unfortunately, I cannot do this, given my present situation and circumstance.
On May 6, shortly after Mr. Podhajsky first wrote to you, my Ordinary suspended my priestly faculties, again without any appropriate or just cause. Therefore, your letter arrived in a situation more complicated than you understood. My Ordinary wrote to me on the same day that Mr. Podhajsky received your letter, and Bishop Knestout indicated that he will not restore my priestly faculties unless and until I remove my weblog from the internet.
I had previously written to, and met with, the bishop, to try to foster mutual understanding about the content of my weblog to which he objects. Instead of participating in such a dialogue, Bishop Knestout issued a “vetitum” forbidding me to communicate in any way, using any social media. I received this document in writing on June 17 (enclosed). I have petitioned the bishop to revoke this vetitum, to no avail.
As your Eminence knows, everyone enjoys the natural right to communicate with his or her fellow human beings, to engage in public discourse and debate. Only the cruellest tyrannies try to supress this right by unjust compulsion.
In your letter to Mr. Podhajsky, Your Eminence made no indication regarding this aspect of the situation. I can only assume that is because you had never examined the merits of the case that Mr. Podhajsky laid before you. Had you done so, you would have seen that my assertion of my right to communicate was, in fact, the precipitating factor behind the events that motivated my petition for hierarchical recourse. Also, as you will note from the letter I received from my ordinary on June 19 (enclosed), he appears to prefer that your Congregation settle this matter, rather than he himself.
Please forgive my presumption on your time and attention. But I must insist that your Congregation consider the merits of this case in full. This is a question of a fundamental human right, as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines it.
My Ordinary’s attempt to unilaterally extinguish my right to communicate now constitutes a serious scandal among the people of this region. Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Bishop Knestout himself, and the provincial Archbishop, William Lori, of Baltimore, have received correspondence from many quarters on this matter. This correspondence, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will verify the danger of scandal that exists here, should my case not receive a fair hearing on the merits.
I thank Your Eminence for your attention to this letter. I look forward to the favor of a response.
We have a Fort Lee down here in Virginny, too, you know. I pass the exit for it every time I have to drive from Martinsville to Richmond for a meeting. Never encountered a single backup…
Last month, our humble cluster of parishes discussed the famous questions about Holy Matrimony posed by the Apostolic See in preparation for the Synod on the Family, which begins in the fall.
I said at the time that the one question that really interested me was:
Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If yes, what form would it take?